NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, December 28th
(All times Eastern)
Portland Trail Blazers (14-13) at Los Angeles Lakers (14-15), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - After having a five-game winning streak snapped, the
Portland Trail Blazers responded with a solid effort on Wednesday to get back
into the win column.
The Los Angeles Lakers hope to do the same on Friday night as they host the
Trail Blazers two days after having their own win streak halted.
The Lakers saw a string of five straight wins stopped on Wednesday with a
126-114 setback to the hosting Denver Nuggets. Los Angeles lost despite 40
points from Kobe Bryant as it allowed a season high in points.
"It seems like we were just a step slow," Bryant said. "We played old and they
played with a lot of energy, a lot of youth, got up-and-down, and we just
seemed like we were in a lower gear all night."
Pau Gasol had 19 points and Dwight Howard logged 12 points and seven rebounds
before getting ejected in the third quarter when he was whistled for a
Flagrant 2 foul for a blow to the head of a driving Kenneth Faried.
"It was a hard foul. That's all I know," said Howard. "I've been fouled harder
than that before and nobody's ever gotten kicked out of the game for it, but I
get penalized for fouling people hard. It's basketball."
The center was fined $35,000 for the foul.
Gasol, meanwhile, is expected to play Friday night despite the team announcing
that an MRI on Thursday revealed the forward has plantar fasciitis in his
right foot. This comes after he recently returned following an eight-game
absence due to tendinitis in both knees.
Gasol's latest injury comes as Steve Nash is set to play in his fourth
straight game after missing 24 straight games due to a fractured left leg
suffered in a 116-106 loss at Portland on Oct. 31.
Bryant had 30 points and six rebounds in that loss, while Howard ended with 33
points and 14 rebounds. Still, the Lakers had a two-game series winning streak
end, but try to record their fifth consecutive home victory over the Trail
Keeping Bryant hot will be key to that. He leads the NBA with 30.2 points per
game and has netted at least 30 in 10 straight games, the second-longest such
streak of his career. Bryant logged 16 games in a row with at least 30 from
Jan. 29-Feb. 28, 2003.
The Trail Blazers look to start a new winning streak after having their five-
game run ended on Sunday in the opener of a home-and-home set with the
Back in Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge, J.J. Hickson and Damian Lillard all
posted double-doubles in a 109-91 win on Wednesday.
Aldridge finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, Hickson contributed 17
points and 14 boards, and Lillard had 17 points and 11 assists to go along
with eight boards.
"We didn't change any schemes, I just thought we executed out defense better,"
Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "We made it a priority to keep the ball in
front of us, keep the ball out of the paint and our pick-and-roll defense was
a little bit better."
Nicolas Batum added 18 points, six rebounds and five assists in the victory.
Hickson, meanwhile, has nine straight double-doubles, the longest such streak
for a Trail Blazer since Terry Porter's nine in a row from Jan. 23-Feb. 10,
Portland is set to play five of its next six on the road and is 4-9 as the
guest this season.
12/28 10:43:03 ET